Sat, Jun 14, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Survey on rock formation shows restoration support

By Yu Chao-fu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Two tourists pose for a picture in front of the Queen’s Head rock formation at Yehliu Geopark in New Taipei City on Jan. 28. The stem supporting the rock formation is dwindling due to erosion, and some academics predict that the head may break off in the next decade and this has drawn more people to the area.

Photo: Yu Chao-fu, Taipei Times

The North Coast and Guanyinshan National Scenic Area is today to announce the results of a poll on a proposal to add artificial protection to the iconic “Queen’s Head” (女王頭) rock formation at Yehliu Geopark in New Taipei City.

Due to wind erosion, the stem of the rock has steadily decreased in size, going from 1.44m in 2006 to 1.26m this year, causing some academics to predict the Queen’s Head will roll within the next decade.

The scenic area’s administration office commissioned National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology to look into the feasibility of using a paste created from fine sand to protect the rock from the effects of erosion.

The NTU group said that according to research the paste can effectively ward off erosion.

However, it added that the paste could not be made to change colors with the seasons, making it more visible at certain times of the year.

The Tourism Bureau last year commissioned Shih Hsin University to conduct a poll on the artificial protection of the Queen’s Head.

Sources said the poll carried out by Shih Hsin University in January surveyed residents of the Wanli District (萬里), domestic and foreign tourists, academics and experts, as well as citizens across the nation.

According to sources, the poll showed that 63 percent of respondents approved of the application of artificial remedies to delay the erosion of the rock formation.

Fifty-nine percent of tourists agreed to the measures, and 56 percent of academics and experts agreed to the measures, sources said.

A total of 1,200 valid responses were received, with a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

According to the director of the scenic area’s administrative office, Chen Mei-hsiu (陳美秀), the poll is only be the first step toward helping extend the lifespan of the rock formation.

Starting next month, the scenic area has planned a year-long test phase for the paste on five different stones to record the effects of the paste to better understand its pros and cons, she said.

The scenic area administration office is to hold another meeting in July next year to determine the effects of the paste on the test subjects, Chen said, adding that academics and experts would be consulted before the application of the paste onto the Queen’s “neck.”

Meanwhile, Yehliu Geopark manager Yang Ching-chien (楊景謙) said that many local residents had asked for the government to make some effort to protect the Queen’s Head rock formation after reports last year that the formation was likely to topple over.

For many residents the Queen’s Head is a part of the nation’s history and must be protected at all costs, Yang said, adding that although he had expected support from the public, he was surprised by the overwhelming amount of support from academics.

The support highlights the importance of the rock formation for all Taiwanese, Yang said.

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